Grieving Personal Wounds
While recently at a men's conference on sexual addiction, the group I was facilitating had been processing the relationship between personal wounds and sexually acting-out. While it is often exciting to watch men reconnect with their hearts and risk vulnerability by sharing painful experiences, I encountered quite a bit of resistance from the group. Men often ask me what the purpose of "rehashing" the past, "blaming" one's parents, or they will give me a monologue on "choices" and "personal responsibility." Their questions are fair and deserve answers, but to miss the issues behind them is to miss the heart of the man that asks.
Some wounds leave us so deeply injured that even looking at them can be terrifying. We are not only afraid of hurting again, but of whatever unknown we may dread finding. Sadly, we trade God's healing touch for the certainty of the mundanely dulled and bruised heart. To us, this can feel better than the dread of having our hearts split open, spilling into our own consciousness or for others to see. But whether we acknowledge it or not, we still bleed from within. This is why our addictions have kept us in bondage for so many years. Willingly and sometimes happily, through acting-out, we turned our backs on our own hearts as they bleed from within.
Acknowledging a wounded heart is not "rehashing," "blaming" or skirting "responsibility" for our own actions/transgressions. When we acknowledge our wounded-ness we ARE taking responsibility for our hearts, and that honors God. Acknowledgement moves us closer to truly surrendering these wounds to God so He may begin to heal them. God patiently respects our unwillingness to acknowledge wounds, for a while. Fortunately he also loves us enough, that in our unwillingness, he allows crisis to bring us face-to-face with our wounds and our transgressions.
For many men struggling with sexual addiction, a crisis of truth may take the form of having one's transgressions exposed. While this is usually humiliating, I frequently remind couple's of God's graciousness and his heart for them. A loving Father does not allow his son/daughter to continue in sin indefinitely without confrontation. Being brought to a crisis of truth is an opportunity and chance for redemption. For some, it may not be possible to reconcile a broken marriage, but for many others it is still possible. Regardless of what is lost, a chance is given to reconcile with God and with self. Reconciliation with self can never happen without an honest look at one's wounds.
Healing wounds can start with resistance. Like any other feeling, resistance can tell you something about yourself. If you feel defensive or resistant about an issue, you may actually be afraid to address it. Your resistance may be telling you to dig deeper and deal with some specifics of an issue. It is not "rehashing," but addressing the issue or wound. You may have a pattern of acting-out sexually to deal with the wound. If you are taking responsibility for your wound by addressing it honestly, you cannot be "blaming." God will honor your efforts to take responsibility and will graciously see you through the process of healing your wounds, if you let him (Rom 8:28).
Copyright 2004 Bob Parkins, LMFT 'all rights reserved
About the Author: Bob Parkins, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Fair Oaks, CA. Bob works with individuals, couples, groups, and families to help them heal from emotional wounds and the symptoms they cause. Bob Parkins, LMFT facilitates a weekly men's group for sexual addiction. Visit Bob's at http://www.bobparkinslmft.com/